OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM) - The heart of Michigan's asparagus industry is Hart. The community in Oceana County is surrounded by farms that grow the spring crop.
Early warm weather this year is creating an early start to the asparagus harvest season. Farmers say that's fine, but without workers the crop may have to be mowed and left to rot in fields.
Migrant workers that usually do the work are still picking crops in Florida and Texas. They're not expected to return to Michigan until May.
That's too long for Michigan farmers to wait. Some asparagus is already two or three inches out of the ground. So Thursday the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board and Michigan Workforce Development Agency attempted to match local workers with farm in need of employees.
The goal of the first ever asparagus job fair in Hart was to fill more than 200 positions. Depending on the farm the jobs will start in the next week or two. Pay starts at $7.40 per hour. But employers also pay hourly bonuses based on the amount of asparagus a worker picks.
Job seekers can find a list of farms with openings at www.michaglabor.org or at any Michigan Works office.
By Jon Mills